In Your Town

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Dream Room Giveaway Chicago Winner: Celsa Gomez

Nominated by daughter, Adelina Aguilar

1. Why is the nominee deserving of a Dream Room Giveaway?

I am nominating my mother, Celsa Gomez. My mother grew up in poor living conditions in Mexico (el rancho)and decided come to this country in search of a better future for her 7 children. She started off getting paid 60 cents an hour and never let anyone of us go hungry, she always put us first. I couldn't think of a better way of thanking her for all of her hard work and commitment for us. I would love to give her everything in this world but before doing that, she encourages me to finish school. Because of her, I am a junior at Dominican University and in the International Honors Society. She has helped me and every one of my brothers and sisters achieve our dreams that almost seemed impossible with the few resources we've had. She is now on disability, and it is because of all the effort and hard work she has put into raising us. Still, she keeps encouraging us to reach high, and not to worry about her. + Read More

2. Please describe the current housing condition or family situation that makes the nominee’s current home less than ideal for family gatherings.

We live in a single family home that we have divided into 3 sections. My sister, her husband and her 3 kids live in the rear part of house. My mother, brother, my two sons and I live in the front part of the house. A couple and their two kids live in the other part of the house. We split the mortgage between the three of us so that we can keep up with the payments.

3. Please tell us more about the nominee’s current constraints such as health or financial reasons, that prohibit him/her from creating a dream room for their family to enjoy.

My mother is disabled and has been diagnosed with many complications. She can no longer use her arms to lift more than 5 pounds and she can't walk for long periods of time. It has become very difficult for her to do activities that require repetitive movement. For example, cooking, she can't stir. She was an excellent cook.

4. Please tell us what room of the residence the nominee would select as the Dream Room and why.

I would make over her living room and her bedroom. Her living room because that is where she spends most of her day. She has a parrot and spends most of her day with him along with watching television. I would also make over her room to make it a bit more comfortable for her.

5. How has the nominee volunteered or participated in the community in which he/she resides?

My mother has done a lot for the community of Pilsen. She is a member of St. Adalbert's church. She participates in the catechism classes on Sundays by helping the kids with prayer and communion. She was also an active member in El Hogar Del Nino when my brothers and sisters and I attended.

6. Is there any other pertinent information that you would like to share as to why the nominee is deserving of winning the Dream Room Giveaway?

My mother never ever gave up on us. She has had many hardships in her life. For example, the death of my older brother Beto, when my brother Jose was shot and in the hospital, and when I became pregnant as a teenager. All of these things tore her up inside when she found out about them but she was always an optimist. She never let us deal with it alone and always guided us towards the brighter side.

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Dream Room Giveaway Chicago Winner: Jeannette Mihalec

1. Why is the nominee deserving of a Dream Room Giveaway?

With little exception, my children and I live and breathe helping our community. My children's teachers have commented many times about the breadth of their knowledge bases, and I think that can be directly attributed to our family's focus on community .From reaching out to our Latino community (and other ethnic groups) to advocating for the mentally ill, to pitching in on the many fundraisers for community organizations, we dedicate much thought, time, and action to our community. + Read More

4. Please tell us what room of the residence the nominee would select as the Dream Room and why.

I hope that I can receive a Dream Room because my bedroom needs to serve many purposes besides being a refuge at the end of the day. It is my home office, where I coordinate my community work - both within my job at the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, but also my extensive work for many community organizations and events (including running our Hispanic Heritage Month Parade), my Kane County Board work and reference storage, and my family history collection. If I have things more organized, I really think I can be more productive for my community. Also, an uncluttered room makes for a happy house.

5. How has the nominee volunteered or participated in the community in which he/she resides?

Kane County Board Member Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioner Retired Elected Member of Elgin Community College Board of Trustees Board Member of Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Kane County, Elgin Hispanic Network, and Summit School/Summit Center (for special needs children)Member and Volunteer of Kiwanis Club of Elgin, Somos Colombia, New Citizen Recognition Committee, Unity Fest

6. Is there any other pertinent information that you would like to share as to why the nominee is deserving of winning the Dream Room Giveaway?

American Family Insurance agent Javier Montoya recommended that I apply. No bigger compliment.

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Dream Room Giveaway Chicago Winner: Jovita Villanueva

1. Why is the nominee deserving of a Dream Room Giveaway?

Lately I have been putting others needs ahead of mine. Last year my husband had an eye injury which left him blind in one eye and put him out of work for over 10 months. During those 10 months I have had to be the main source of income for our household. In addition to the stress of providing for my family, last spring my husband and I took guardianship of our nephew in hopes of providing him with a stable home environment. While living with his mother my nephew had very few cloths, no coat or shoes, and he was developmentally low for his age. For the past 6 months I have poured into him and he is now able to write his name and identify shapes, colors, and letters. + Read More

In addition to being a busy mother and wife, I am also a 4th grade bilingual teacher at the #1 school with the highest poverty level in our district. However, as stressful as my job may be, I truly love going to work each day. I love the fact that no matter how big, or small, I am making some type of difference in my student's lives.

I think that I am deserving of a Dream Room because I would look to this award as a family gift. All of us have had to make sacrifices because of our reduction in household income. We have many projects around the house (such as a hole in our kitchen ceiling because of a pluming issue we had to fix and my room needing remodeling) that have had to go untouched because we cannot afford to fix up our home at the time. Although our house has 3 bedrooms my nephew is sleeping in my daughter's room because we have been unable to afford to paint the extra room (which is currently pink) and to buy him a new bed. My two daughters have also had to make sacrifices to accommodate their cousin living with us and sharing their room and toys. I am extremely proud of them because they have never once complained about our current situation and have embraced him into our home unconditionally.

2. Please describe the current housing condition or family situation that makes the nominee’s current home less than ideal for family gatherings.

Currently we have a huge hole in our kitchen ceiling because of a pluming issue we had to fix and were unable to afford drywall to patch up the hole. Our kitchen also has several pieces of broken tile and our cabinets are outdated and scratched. We tried painting them a few years ago to make them more appealing but they are still in poor shape. Although we have a large living room, we don't have enough sitting space to accommodate guests. I would love to fix up my home in a way that offered my family and I a serene place to gather at the end of our busy day to reconnect and enjoy family time.

3. Please tell us more about the nominee’s current constraints such as health or financial reasons, that prohibit him/her from creating a dream room for their family to enjoy.

My husband was on disability from December of this year until the end of July. When he was released to go back to work he was laid off. Unfortunately he is unable to collect unemployment because we are waiting for his visa and until he receives it he cannot be a "burden to the state" or it will negatively impact his case. This has caused us to go from 2 incomes to one and we have been struggling each month to make ends meet. He has been desperately looking for work and is currently working for a temp agency but he is making 1/2 of what he used to make.

4. Please tell us what room of the residence the nominee would select as the Dream Room and why.

I would select our kitchen because it is STILL the heart of our home (despite the hole in the ceiling). This is the room where we gather each night to eat dinner, do homework, and grade papers. It is the room that our guests choose to just hang out in when they come over. I would also choose this room because it is the one that needs the most work done in order to feel more modern yet cozy at the same time. .

5. How has the nominee volunteered or participated in the community in which he/she resides?

Whenever possible I volunteer in my kid's school during my vacation time (because I work at a year-round school). I also participated in my community by helping to organize a committee in our neighborhood that is in the process of talking with city council members about flooding issues we have in our area. We are also going to organize a clean-up effort along the creek to increase better flow of water and help minimize flooding in our neighborhood.

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